On March 20, doctor Gabriel Heras, ICU intensivist at the Hospital de Torrejón, in Madrid, published on Twitter a photo of his hands, skinned after days fighting tirelessly against the coronavirus. “We made a call at the national level to have more professionals because we lack human and material resources. We use an image of my worn hands from both washing them and the systematic use of gloves,” he explained. The vast majority of Spaniards cannot imagine the degree of responsibility of the doctor, and we are unaware of the pressure of his work. We can only applaud their work every afternoon. But, who else who least, does have dehydrated hands, even bare, from so much washing them. Most resort these days to the moisturizer to repair them, but not all creams are the same or useful in all cases. How do we know if we are using the right one?
To answer this question, it must be understood that the outermost layer of the skin, which is called the horny layer or hydrolipidic mantle, is a barrier made up of about 20 layers of epidermal cells, natural sebum and between 10% and 15% of Water. All this makes a kind of natural raincoat that It ensures that neither the water runs out from inside nor foreign substances enter from outside. Hydroalcoholic gel and soap kill microorganisms and kill viruses like the coronavirus, but they also take the protective grease away. With the wall weakened, we begin to lose more water than normal and the skin dries out. If the process is not stopped in time, the horny layer breaks down and the skins appear, even the small wounds that usually arise on the knuckles and fingers. Then the questions come. How do you reverse disaster? How to prevent it from happening again? What do you have to look at to choose the best hand cream?
The answer is on the label. Can you read it?
Just like when we buy food, choosing the best cosmetics requires getting used to reading the ingredients. They appear in INCI, a string of unintelligible words that seem to be on the packaging out of pure commitment. It must be assumed that normally understanding this list is not within our reach, but the truth is that doing it is very useful. It’s worth a try. In the specific field of moisturizers, as explained by the chemist and author of the book Cosmetic Intelligence Cristina Carvajal, the cosmetic will provide hydration, prevent water loss or both depending on what you have.
She distinguishes four fundamental ingredients. The first are moisturizers, They carry an emulsion of water and fat that provides hydration and protection to the skin. In it we can find oils, esters and silicones (the latter are the compounds whose names end in methicone, methiconol and siloxysilicate, or that contain siloxane). Then there are the occlusive ingredients, They create a physical layer of fat on the skin and act as “cement” to strengthen the bond between cells. This helps the water not evaporate. Some examples are shea butter, waxes, ceramides (they are part of the “natural cement” of the skin) and almost all vegetable oils. Thirdly, there are emollients such as sorbitol and silicones, they soothe and calm the skin (for example, they alleviate the stinging sensation caused by the cream when the hands are so dehydrated that they appear to be made of sandpaper). Finally, there are the humectants, They are characterized by attracting water to the skin and then helping it stay in it. They are glycerin, urea and hyaluronic acid, which retains water equivalent to a thousand times its weight.
Ideally, a moisturizer incorporates all of these ingredients for it to work properly. But they are only the base, there are other compounds that go further and that are also interesting. If what we want is to repair, it is good to look in its formulation for ingredients that accelerate that process. These include panthenol (you can also find it as provitamin B5), bisabolol, an isomer derived from chamomile that accelerates healing; vitamin E and rosehip. If the words “restorative” or “healing” appear on the packaging, it most likely carries one of them. Other compounds help to make the touch feel better, which is not trivial, as anyone who has renounced a cosmetic knows for its long-lasting stickiness.
On the other hand, for a moisturizer to penetrate well into the skin “it needs to have certain chemical characteristics”, according to Lorea Bagazgoitia, member of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. The smaller the molecules, the better they will strain. The more protected, the less they will degrade on the journey into the skin. The more research, the more likely the formula will take delayed-action technologies for the effects of cosmetic last longer. An example is CeraVe’s multivesicular emulsion technology: the ingredients are encapsulated in articulated microspheres in different layers, a structure reminiscent of Russian matrioskas. Each layer is made of ceramides and hyaluronic acid. Once the cream is applied, the layers melt successively, releasing the assets gradually, so that you do not suddenly notice the sticky hands or dry again after a while.
If the sun doesn’t shine, why do I have a dry face?
The skin of the body, even if it is covered by clothes, does not get rid of the environmental dryness of the house, and there is much of that if you spend weeks without being able to go outside. It’s easy to notice tight calves, even peeling. “You have to keep hydrating your whole body every day when you get out of the shower. And exfoliate to eliminate dead cells and promote the absorption of the product. All accompanied by a good massage to stimulate circulation and relax, whenever possible, “says veteran esthetician Carmen Navarro.
The mechanism of action of creams designed to hydrate the body is the same, but it has peculiarities: they are usually denser and more perfumed, which produces a more pleasant experience. As for the face, after the time we have been confined you may notice the taut face, a feeling similar to what you have when you go to the beach but without the sun. “Many times it is due to the lack of humidity inside the houses, especially if the heating is very high. And we must not forget that the stress generated by confinement and the health alert situation can alter the skin. Or that, many times, since we are not going out, we relax our daily skin care and that shows. “
In this section, the right cream depends on many factors. For example, age is very important because the older we are, the leaner. The hormonal state also influences: in the menopause estrogens are lost and the skin dries more. The thickness of the skin is also important when making a choice … In this case, as in all others, it is best to follow a tip of great value in this type of choice: when in doubt, do not go to the supermarket and stop by the pharmacy.
You can follow Buenavida on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or subscribe here to the Newsletter.